Uh-Oh: X-Rated Company Snatching Up 1-800 Numbers

 When we worry about companies gaining monopolies, this isn't usually the sort of thing that comes to mind-a steamy phone-sex company gobbling up the toll-free numbers that used to be advertised all the time. The AP reports:

Records obtained by The Associated Press show that over the past 13 years, a little-known Philadelphia company called PrimeTel Communications has quietly gained control over nearly a quarter of all the 1-800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada, often by grabbing them the moment they are relinquished by previous users. As of March, it administered more 800 numbers than any other company, including Verizon and AT&T.

And many, if not most, of those 1.7 million numbers appear to be used for one thing: redirecting callers to a phone-sex service.

The AP reports details the way it works: as soon as old hotline numbers are "Relinquished" by previous users, whether they're tourists boards to teen advice lines, they're grabbed up by this "porn company," PrimeTel, which then replaces whatever was there before with an ad directing them to use its adults-only services.

Read more here.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at April 20, 2011, 6:38am